Economic Pessimism at its Highest Point This Year

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The roughly one in four Americans expecting the economy to improve in the coming year is all but unchanged from June (26%, vs. 25% in June). However, pessimism continues to grow, with three in ten Americans expecting the economy to get worse in that time (30%, up from 27% in June and 21% at the beginning of the year).

  • Optimism is strongest among Blacks and Hispanics, with 56% and 49%, respectively, expecting the economy to improve (vs. 22% of Whites and 19% of Asians), while Whites are especially likely to expect that it will get worse (32% vs. 13% of Blacks, 22% of Hispanics and 26% of Asians).
  • Looking at the political spectrum, Democrats are split between the expectations that the economy will get better and that it will stay the same (43% each), while a plurality of Republicans believe it will get worse (46%, with 42% expecting it will stay the same).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,368 general population U.S. adults, along with representative oversamples of 511 Hispanic Americans (interviewed in English and Spanish) and 179 Asian Americans (interviewed in English), surveyed online between September 9 and 17, 2015.

Looking homeward, 27% of Americans expect their household financial condition to be better in the next six months while 23% expect it to be worse. Both outlooks are at their highest points in some time (since January for the positive expectations, since last year for negative ones), which means that one way or another, fewer Americans are expecting their household finances to remain the same (50%, down from 55% in June).

  • Blacks are the most optimistic sub-segment of the population, with six in ten (60%) expecting their household’s financial condition to be better in the next six months, compared to over a third of Hispanics (36%) and two in ten Asians (21%) and Whites (20%).
  • Politically, optimism is highest among Democrats (40% vs. 20% among Independents and 15% among Republicans.

Presidential ratings

Four in ten (41%) Americans give President Obama positive ratings on his overall job performance, while six in ten (59%) rate him negatively. While nearly identical to last month (when 40% gave him positive ratings), this month’s positive ratings mark a considerable improvement over a year ago, when 30% of Americans gave him positive ratings. Findings are similar for the President’s showing on the economy, with the 39% of Americans giving him positive ratings (vs. 61% rating him negatively) all but unchanged from the 40% who did the same last month but up considerably from 29% a year ago.

  • Strong majorities of Blacks give the President positive ratings both overall (77%) and in regards to the economy (76%).
  • A 56% majority of Hispanics rate the President positively overall, but opinions are more mixed among this group in regards to his performance on the economy (51% positive, 49% negative).
  • Two-thirds of Whites and nearly six in ten Asians give the President negative ratings both overall (66% White, 59% Asian) and for his handling of the economy (66%, 58%).
  • Looking along party lines, strong majorities of Democrats give the President positive ratings (73% overall, 71% economy), while considerable majorities of Independents (65%, 66%) and predictably vast majorities of Republicans (92% each) give him negative marks.

Congress and the overall state of the country

For a couple of months there, Congress managed double digit positive ratings. Not so this month, with 9% giving Congress positive ratings and 91% rating it negatively.

  • While disdain for Congress is fairly universal, Hispanics and Blacks (20% and 17%, respectively) are most likely to give the body positive marks than Asians and Whites (13% and 6%).
  • Generationally, Millennials (16%) are at least twice as likely as any other generation to rate Congress positively (vs. 8% of Gen Xers, 4% of Baby Boomers and less than half a percentage point among Matures).
  • All political persuasions display low opinions of Congress, though it’s worth noting that Democrats are roughly twice as likely as either Republicans or Independents to give Congress positive ratings (13% Democrats vs. 6% each Republicans and Independents).

Roughly a third of Americans believe that the country is headed in the right direction (32%, down marginally from 34% last month but also up slightly from 29% a year ago), while roughly two-thirds (68%) feel the country has gotten off on the wrong track.

  • Blacks (66%), Hispanics (52%) and Asians (44%) are all much more likely than Whites (27%) to believe the country is headed in the right direction while Whites are far more likely to feel things in the country have gotten off on the wrong track (73% Whites vs. 56% Asians, 48% Hispanics, 34% Blacks).
  • The majority of Democrats (55%) believe things are going in the right direction, while three-fourths of Independents (75%) and nearly nine in ten Republicans (88%) feel things have gotten off on the wrong track.

To see other recent Harris Polls, visit us at TheHarrisPoll.com.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here! 

 


TABLE 1a

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – TREND

“How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?”

                Base: All adults

 

TREND

Positive*

Negative**

%

%

2015

September

41

59

 

August

40

60

July

39

61

June

38

62

May

41

59

Apr

38

62

Mar

37

63

Feb

38

62

Jan (post-SOTU)

42

58

Jan (pre-SOTU)

39

61

2014

December

33

67

 

November

35

65

October

34

66

September

30

70

August

32

68

July

34

66

June

38

62

May

38

62

April

33

67

March

35

65

February

35

65

January

32

68

2013

December

34

66

 

November

32

68

October

35

65

September

34

66

July

39

61

June

41

59

March

38

62

2012

December

45

55

 

September

41

59

April

41

59

March

40

60

January

36

64

2011

December

36

64

 

November

34

66

October

33

67

September

32

68

July

38

62

May

46

54

April

38

62

March

39

61

Feb.

42

58

Jan.

44

56

2010

Dec.

36

64

 

Nov.

38

62

Oct.

37

63

Sept.

38

62

Aug.

40

60

June

39

61

May

42

58

March

41

59

Jan.

40

60

2009

Dec.

41

59

 

Nov.

43

57

Oct.

45

55

Sept.

49

51

Aug.

51

49

June

54

46

May

59

41

April

58

42

March

55

45

*Positive = excellent or pretty good.  **Negative = only fair or poor.

 

 

TABLE 1b

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING – By Political Party & Political Ideology

“How would you rate the overall job President Barack Obama is doing?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Generation

Ethnicity/Race

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

41

8

73

35

47

38

39

34

34

77

56

41

    Excellent

11

*

25

5

12

10

10

11

9

27

10

5

    Pretty good

30

8

48

30

35

29

29

22

25

50

46

36

NEGATIVE

59

92

27

65

53

62

61

66

66

23

44

59

    Only fair

23

18

19

28

28

25

19

16

24

18

29

46

    Poor

36

74

7

37

25

37

42

50

42

5

16

13

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

* indicates fewer than <0.5% selected this response

 

 


TABLE 2a

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

“Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

 

2009

2010

March

April

May

June

Aug

Sept

Nov

Dec

Jan

Mar

Apr

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

47

49

46

43

39

40

34

36

31

32

33

36

32

32

29

27

31

30

      Excellent

13

13

10

3

9

7

6

6

5

5

6

6

5

6

5

5

5

5

      Pretty good

34

36

36

34

31

33

27

30

25

27

27

30

27

26

24

22

26

25

NEGATIVE (NET)

53

51

54

57

61

60

66

64

69

68

67

64

68

68

71

73

69

70

      Only fair

30

27

30

27

25

27

30

30

31

30

31

29

32

29

31

33

30

34

      Poor

23

24

24

30

36

33

37

34

39

37

36

34

37

39

40

39

39

36

 

 

2011

2012

2013

Jan

Feb*

Mar

May

June

July

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Feb

Mar

Apr

June

July

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

33

33

33

32

27

26

21

23

22

25

25

32

32

36

33

39

35

33

29

30

30

29

  Excellent

7

9

5

7

5

3

2

3

3

4

2

3

5

4

6

6

5

5

4

5

6

4

  Pretty good

26

24

28

26

22

23

18

20

20

22

22

29

27

32

27

32

31

28

28

25

24

25

NEGATIVE (NET)

67

62

67

68

73

74

79

77

78

75

75

68

68

64

67

61

65

67

71

70

70

71

   Only fair

30

22

29

28

30

33

33

36

32

34

34

30

29

26

26

26

29

29

31

28

29

30

   Poor

37

39

38

40

43

41

46

41

46

41

41

38

39

38

41

35

36

38

40

42

41

41

 

 

2014

2015

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan (pre-SOTU)

Jan (Post-SOTU)

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE (NET)

28

31

31

32

35

32

30

30

29

33

35

34

39

42

40

38

38

39

36

38

40

39

      Excellent

5

4

5

5

5

7

7

6

6

5

8

9

10

10

9

10

10

10

8

6

8

11

      Pretty good

23

27

26

27

29

25

23

25

24

27

26

25

29

32

31

28

27

29

28

31

32

29

NEGATIVE (NET)

72

69

69

68

65

68

70

70

71

67

65

66

61

58

60

62

62

61

64

62

60

61

      Only fair

30

29

27

29

26

28

27

31

31

29

29

30

26

27

28

28

28

25

28

27

24

25

      Poor

42

40

42

39

39

40

43

39

40

38

36

36

34

31

32

34

35

35

35

36

36

35

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; *In February 2012 “Not at all sure” was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.

 


TABLE 2b

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – By Political Party & Political Ideology

“How would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Generation

Ethnicity/Race

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

39

8

71

34

42

39

38

35

34

76

51

42

    Excellent

11

1

23

7

10

11

11

11

8

28

7

7

    Pretty good

29

7

49

28

32

29

27

24

26

48

43

36

NEGATIVE

61

92

29

66

58

61

62

65

66

24

49

58

    Only fair

25

23

21

28

32

24

23

19

25

19

36

36

    Poor

35

69

8

38

26

37

39

46

41

5

13

22

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding 

 

TABLE 3a

CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – Trend

“How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?”

Base: All adults

 

TREND

Positive*

Negative**

%

%

2015

September

9

91

 

August

10

90

July

11

89

June

9

91

May

9

91

April

9

91

March

7

93

February

9

91

Jan (post-SOTU)

10

90

Jan (Pre-SOTU)

9

91

2014

December

7

93

 

October

8

92

September

7

93

August

8

92

July

9

91

June

10

90

May

7

93

April

7

93

March

8

92

February

8

92

January

6

94

2013

December

5

95

 

November

7

93

October

4

96

September

7

93

July

9

91

June

9

91

March

6

94

2012

December

8

92

 

April

11

89

March

9

91

January

6

94

2011

December

5

95

 

July

8

92

May

13

87

January

16

84

2010

December

11

89

 

June

14

86

March

10

90

Jan.

16

84

2009

Dec.

17

83

 

Oct.

16

84

June

25

75

March

29

71

2008

October

10

86

 

August

18

77

June

13

83

February

20

76

2007

December

17

79

 

October

20

77

April

27

69

February

33

62

2006

September

24

73

 

May

18

80

February

25

71

January

25

72

*Positive = excellent or pretty good.  **Negative = only fair or poor.

 

 

TABLE 3b

CONGRESS’ OVERALL JOB RATING – By Political Party & Political Ideology

“How would you rate the overall job Congress is doing?”

  Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Generation

Ethnicity/Race

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

POSITIVE

9

6

13

6

16

8

4

*

6

17

20

13

    Excellent

2

2

2

1

4

2

1

2

4

1

    Pretty good

7

5

11

4

13

7

4

*

5

15

17

12

NEGATIVE

91

94

87

94

84

92

96

100

94

83

80

87

    Only fair

35

40

35

31

37

37

34

31

35

40

48

44

    Poor

56

54

52

63

46

54

62

69

59

43

31

44

  Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

* indicates fewer than <0.5% selected this response

— indicates no selections for this response


TABLE 4a

RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK – TREND

“Generally speaking, would you say things in the country are going in the right direction or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?”

                                Base: All adults

 

TREND

Right Direction

Wrong Track

%

%

2015

September

32

68

 

August

34

66

July

34

66

June

30

70

May

35

65

April

33

67

March

35

65

Feb

38

62

Jan (Post-SOTU)

44

56

Jan (Pre-SOTU)

38

62

2014

December

30

70

 

November

34

66

October

34

66

September

29

71

August

32

68

July

31

69

June

33

67

May

35

65

April

34

66

March

34

66

February

34

66

January

31

69

2013

December

33

67

 

November

30

70

October

20

80

September

29

71

July

34

66

May

39

61

2012

March

34

66

 

January

27

73

2011

August

16

84

 

May

39

61

2010

December

29

71

 

April

39

61

2009

August

46

54

 

January

19

72

2008

October

11

83

 

February

23

69

2007

December

18

74

 

February

29

62

2006

May

24

69

 

February

32

59

2005

November

27

68

 

January

46

48

2004

September

38

57

 

June

35

59

2003

December

35

57

 

June

44

51

2002

December

36

57

 

June

46

48

2001

December

65

32

 

June

43

52

2000

October

50

41

 

June

40

51

1999

June

37

55

 

March

47

45

1998

December

43

51

 

June

48

44

1997

December

39

56

 

April

36

55

1996

December

38

50

 

June

29

64

1995

December

26

62

 

June

24

65

1994

December

29

63

 

June

28

65

1993

June

21

70

 

March

39

50

1992

June

12

81

 

January

20

75

1991

December

17

75

 

January

58

32

 

 

TABLE 4b

RIGHT DIRECTION OR WRONG TRACK – By Political Party, Generation & Ethnicity/Race

“Generally speaking, would you say things in the country are going in the right direction or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Generation

Ethnicity/Race

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Right direction

32

12

55

25

38

31

30

27

27

66

52

44

Wrong track

68

88

45

75

62

69

70

73

73

34

48

56

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 5a

 EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR – TREND

“In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?”

Base: All adults

 

2009

2010

April

May

Aug

Sept

Oct

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

39

38

46

40

34

38

30

29

28

30

34

29

Stay the same

35

35

32

36

37

34

42

39

40

40

41

45

Get worse

26

27

22

24

29

28

28

32

32

30

25

26

 

 

2011

2012

2013

Feb

June

July

Sept

Oct

Dec

Feb

Dec

Feb

March

April

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

34

26

23

21

20

23

36

33

32

30

29

32

32

29

27

22

22

25

27

Stay the same

42

41

41

45

46

47

40

31

40

37

41

42

41

44

42

46

37

44

42

Get worse

25

33

37

34

34

29

24

36

28

33

29

25

27

27

31

32

41

32

32

 

 

2014

2015

Jan

Feb

Mar

May

June

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Apr

June

Sept

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

26

26

24

26

22

25

22

26

27

28

32

28

26

25

26

Stay the same

44

43

45

48

51

46

49

45

51

50

47

49

51

49

43

Get worse

30

32

31

27

26

29

29

29

22

23

21

23

24

27

30

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 5b

 EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR

By Generation, Gender & Political Party

“In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Generation

Ethnicity/Race

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Improve

26

12

43

20

33

26

21

23

22

56

49

19

Stay the same

43

42

43

47

37

48

47

40

46

31

29

55

Get worse

30

46

14

33

30

26

32

37

32

13

22

26

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 6a

EXPECTATIONS FOR HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL CONDITION IN NEXT SIX MONTHS

“Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?”

Base:  All adults

 

2013

2014

Feb

Mar

April

May

June

July

Sept

Oct

Nov

Jan

Feb

Mar

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

23

21

22

26

24

24

19

18

20

23

22

21

24

23

23

24

22

21

22

22

     Much better

3

3

4

5

4

5

4

3

4

4

4

4

5

4

6

6

4

3

4

4

     Somewhat better

20

17

18

20

20

19

15

15

16

18

19

17

20

19

18

18

18

18

18

19

Will remain the same

50

49

49

50

53

49

52

48

50

49

52

52

52

 54

51

51

53

53

57

56

WORSE (NET)

27

30

28

24

23

26

29

34

30

29

26

27

23

23

26

25

25

26

21

21

     Somewhat worse

20

21

20

18

17

18

21

24

19

19

18

19

17

17

18

17

18

18

16

15

     Much worse

7

9

8

6

6

9

8

11

11

10

8

8

7

7

8

8

7

8

5

6

 

 

2015

Jan

Feb

Apr

June

Sept

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

27

26

23

23

27

  Much better

6

5

5

5

6

Somewhat better

21

21

18

18

21

Will remain the same

53

55

56

55

50

WORSE (NET)

21

19

21

22

23

Somewhat worse

15

15

16

16

18

  Much worse

6

4

5

6

5

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 6b

EXPECTATIONS FOR HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL CONDITION IN NEXT SIX MONTHS

By Region, Gender & Political Party

“Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Political Party

Generation

Ethnicity/Race

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Millennials (18-35)

Gen X (36-50)

Baby Boomers (51-69)

Matures (70+)

White

Black

Hispanic

Asian

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

BETTER (NET)

27

15

40

20

37

32

17

16

20

60

36

21

  Much better

6

3

7

6

8

8

3

3

4

20

10

3

Somewhat better

21

12

34

14

30

24

14

14

17

40

26

18

Will remain the same

50

52

46

55

43

48

58

49

54

33

47

63

WORSE (NET)

23

33

13

25

20

20

25

35

26

8

17

15

Somewhat worse

18

25

12

19

15

15

19

29

20

5

14

13

  Much worse

5

8

1

6

5

5

6

6

6

2

3

3

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 9 and 17, 2015 among 2,368 adults (aged 18 and over). Additionally, oversamples were collected in English and Spanish among 511 Hispanic (representing Spanish-dominant, English-dominant and Bilingual profiles) respondents and in English among 179 Asian respondents. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

The Harris Poll® #60, October 1, 2015

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll